Heterogeneous surface crystallization observed in undercooled water

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We report laboratory observations of higher freezing temperatures when an ice-forming nucleus is near the surface of an undercooled water drop than when the nucleus is immersed in the drop. The nucleation rate at the water surface is a factor of 10 10 greater than in bulk water, thereby complementing and providing evidence for homogeneous surface crystallization, which has been hypothesized recently. Interpretation of the data via classical nucleation theory shows that the free energy of formation of a critical ice germ is decreased by a factor of approximately 2 when the substrate is near the air-water interface. Furthermore, the analysis suggests that the jump frequency of molecules from the liquid to the solid may be greatly enhanced at the interface. © 2005 American Chemical Society.

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Journal of Physical Chemistry B